Gregory v. CitiMortgage, Inc.

Decision Date11 September 2012
Docket NumberCase No. 11–15521.
Citation890 F.Supp.2d 791
PartiesKurt D. GREGORY, Plaintiff, v. CITIMORTGAGE, INC., Citibank, NA, Bank of America, NA, and Structured Asset Securities Corporation Mortgage Pass–Through Certificates for Series 2005–1, Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Eastern District of Michigan

OPINION TEXT STARTS HERE

Brian P. Parker, Brian P. Parker Assoc., Bingham Farms, MI, for Plaintiff.

Stephen C. Borgsdorf, Kathryn J. Miller, Dykema Gossett, Ann Arbor, MI, for Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS

DAVID M. LAWSON, District Judge.

This case involves the foreclosure of a residential mortgage. The defendants claim to hold the mortgage on the plaintiff's home and began foreclosure proceedings when the payments became delinquent. After the sheriff's sale and before the redemption period expired, the plaintiff filed suit in state court alleging breach of contract, fraud, quiet title, wrongful foreclosure, and conversion. The defendants removed the case to this Court on the basis of diversity and filed a motion to dismiss. The Court heard oral argument on the motion on September 5, 2012. The plaintiff's complaint hinges on his argument that the defendants' securitization of the note left the defendant without the statutory authority to foreclose or the authority to collect mortgage payments from the plaintiff. After due consideration, the Court finds that, except for the breach of contract count, the complaint fails to state claims for which relief can be granted. Therefore, the Court will grant in part and deny in part the motion to dismiss.

I.

The following facts are taken from the plaintiff's complaint. The plaintiff resides on Lapeer Road in Lake Orion, Michigan. On November 19, 2004 the plaintiff signed an installment promissory note and mortgage with defendant ABN AMRO in the amount of $124,000. The mortgage was recorded with the Oakland County Register of Deeds. At some point in 2005, the note was transferred into the defendant trust. ABN AMRO, by Citimortgage, its successor in interest through a merger, assigned the mortgage to defendant LaSalle on September 17, 2007; the assignment was recorded on October 16, 2007. The assignment states that ABN/Citimortgage is the holder of the note and assigned the note along with the mortgage. Sometime later, Bank of America acquired LaSalle by merger. In early 2011, the plaintiff fell behind on his mortgage payments and defendant Bank of America commenced foreclosure by advertisement. The subject property was sold at a foreclosure sale on May 17, 2011 and was purchased by Bank of America.

The plaintiff filed his complaint in state court on November 14, 2011. The complaint contains claims for breach of contract, fraud in the assignment, fraud in the foreclosure notices, quiet title, wrongful foreclosure, and conversion, as well as a count entitled defendants are not the true parties in interest.” The plaintiff's complaint alleges that the mortgage provides that it can only be transferred along with the note, and that therefore defendant ABN AMRO had a duty to keep the mortgage together with the note. The plaintiff alleges that the defendant breached this duty by assigning the note to a securitized trust and by assigning the mortgage without the note. The complaint alleges that defendants ABN and Citimortgage misrepresented their ownership of the note and did not have the authority to foreclose on the subject property. The complaint also alleges that the note was somehow paid off when it entered the trust and therefore the mortgage no longer acts as security for any debt. The defendants removed the complaint to this court on December 16, 2011 and filed a motion to dismiss on January 27, 2012.

II.

“The purpose of Rule 12(b)(6) is to allow a defendant to test whether, as a matter of law, the plaintiff is entitled to legal relief if all the facts and allegations in the complaint are taken as true.” Rippy ex rel. Rippy v. Hattaway, 270 F.3d 416, 419 (6th Cir.2001) (citing Mayer v. Mylod, 988 F.2d 635, 638 (6th Cir.1993)). Under Rule 12(b)(6), the complaint is viewed in the light most favorable to plaintiffs, the allegations in the complaint are accepted as true, and all reasonable inferences are drawn in favor of plaintiffs. Bassett v. Nat'l Collegiate Athletic Ass'n, 528 F.3d 426, 430 (6th Cir.2008). [A] judge may not grant a Rule 12(b)(6) motion based on a disbelief of a complaint's factual allegations.” Saglioccolo v. Eagle Ins. Co., 112 F.3d 226, 228–29 (6th Cir.1997) (quoting Columbia Nat'l Res., Inc. v. Tatum, 58 F.3d 1101, 1109 (6th Cir.1995)). “However, while liberal, this standard of review does require more than the bare assertion of legal conclusions.” Tatum, 58 F.3d at 1109;Tackett v. M & G Polymers, USA, L.L.C., 561 F.3d 478, 488 (6th Cir.2009).

To survive a motion to dismiss, [a plaintiff] must plead “enough factual matter” that, when taken as true, “state[s] a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007). Plausibility requires showing more than the ‘sheer possibility’ of relief but less than a ‘probab[le] entitlement to relief. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, , 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009).

Fabian v. Fulmer Helmets, Inc., 628 F.3d 278, 280 (6th Cir.2010). “Where a complaint pleads facts that are ‘merely consistent with’ a defendant's liability, it's tops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.' ” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557, 127 S.Ct. 1955).

Under the new regime ushered in by Twombly and Iqbal, pleaded facts must be accepted by the reviewing court but conclusions may not be unless they are plausibly supported by the pleaded facts. [B]are assertions,” such as those that “amount to nothing more than a ‘formulaic recitation of the elements' of a claim, can provide context to the factual allegations, but are insufficient to state a claim for relief and must be disregarded. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 681, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955). However, as long as a court can ‘draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged,’ a plaintiff's claims must survive a motion to dismiss.” Fabian, 628 F.3d at 281 (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937).

Consideration of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) is confined to the pleadings. Jones v. City of Cincinnati, 521 F.3d 555, 562 (6th Cir.2008). Assessment of the facial sufficiency of the complaint ordinarily must be undertaken without resort to matters outside the pleadings. Wysocki v. Int'l Bus. Mach. Corp., 607 F.3d 1102, 1104 (6th Cir.2010). However, “documents attached to the pleadings become part of the pleadings and may be considered on a motion to dismiss.” Commercial Money Ctr., Inc. v. Illinois Union Ins. Co., 508 F.3d 327, 335 (6th Cir.2007) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(c)); see also Koubriti v. Convertino, 593 F.3d 459, 463 n. 1 (6th Cir.2010). Even if a document is not attached to a complaint or answer, “when a document is referred to in the pleadings and is integral to the claims, it may be considered without converting a motion to dismiss into one for summary judgment.” Commercial Money Ctr., 508 F.3d at 335–36. Further, where the plaintiff does not refer directly to given documents in the pleadings, if those documents govern the plaintiff's rights and are necessarily incorporated by reference then the motion need not be converted to one for summary judgment. Weiner v. Klais & Co., Inc., 108 F.3d 86, 89 (6th Cir.1997) (holding that plan documents could be incorporated without converting the motion to one for summary judgment even though the complaint referred only to the “plan” and not the accompanying documents). In addition, [a] court may consider matters of public record in deciding a motion to dismiss without converting the motion to one for summary judgment.” Commercial Money Ctr., Inc., 508 F.3d at 336.

The defendants attached the note, the mortgage, the mortgage assignment, and the certificates of merger to its motion to dismiss. The plaintiff attaches all of these documents, with the exception of the certificates of merger, to his complaint. The certificates of merger are matters of public record. The Court, therefore, considers the documents that the defendants attached to their motion to dismiss when deciding the motion. The plaintiff attached the note, the mortgage, the warranty deed, the assignment of mortgage, the foreclosure notices, the sheriff's deed, and an affidavit from Gregory Till of Xtreme Legal Research, LLC, to his response. With the exception of the affidavit, each of those documents is referred to in the plaintiff's complaint and may be considered in deciding the defendants' motion to dismiss. However, because the affidavit is neither referenced to in the pleadings nor integral to the plaintiff's claims, the Court will not consider this affidavit in deciding the defendants' motion to dismiss.

A.

The defendants begin their attack on the plaintiff's complaint with a challenge to the plaintiff's standing to bring the suit. They argue that the plaintiff lost the right to sue when the redemption period following the sheriff's sale expired. That argument has no merit.

Standing is required in order to confer subject matter jurisdiction upon federal courts under Article III of the Constitution. It is “the threshold question in every federal case.” Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 498, 95 S.Ct. 2197, 45 L.Ed.2d 343 (1975). The Supreme Court has stated that the standing requirement “limits federal court jurisdiction to actual controversies so that the judicial process is not transformed into ‘a vehicle for the vindication of the value interests of concerned bystanders.’ Coal Operators & Assocs., Inc. v. Babbitt, 291 F.3d 912, 915–16 (6th Cir.2002) (quoting Valley Forge...

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